Emery Secondary School
My participation in the East Bay Alliance for a Suitable Economy gave me the opportunity to find a new side of me. I always desired to help others and to make a difference; now I know I can. I am not only an academic student but also a civically involved person. I not only participate in many clubs, I also tutor students and try to reach my peers to come to the realization of the importance of college and of service above self.
Donever Waters, Senior Library Assistant
Skyline High School
On August 25, 2001, my cousin Everado Ortiz died at the age of twenty after an accident cause by drunk driving. It was his death that taught me a valuable lesson about life. When he was alive he was very smart, but he became a victim of peer pressure. I, too, was gradually losing track of my educational goals…I finally realized that there are many regrets in life and I did not want this to be one of them.
Zach Ronneberg, Physics Teacher
Oakland High School
Knox University (Illinois)
Seeing Fiji’s people survive poverty with smiles on their faces made me appreciate my America. I used to wonder when the newest shoes and hottest technology would hit the market, not realizing there were people in other countries that didn’t know how to use a computer and couldn’t afford shoes. The poverty I am in doesn’t compare to the poverty in Fiji. I am learning how to appreciate my life and how to overcome my hardships. I came into this world fighting for my life and I’m still fighting.
Lorna Velasco, Executive Director
MetWest High School
The experiences I have endured throughout my life have taught me to believe that working alongside somebody doubles the chances for great creations. For our lives to be meaningful, we have to determine what our purpose is by exploring our interest and passions, and learning that we must share our skills and knowledge with the community. With my FACES and Youth Radio volunteer experience I have discovered that I have a passion for healthcare and for empowering my community with knowledge.
Christina Chung, 12th Grade Teacher/Advisor
McClymonds EXCEL High School
I have realized that life is precious. Everyday I look forward to coming home to my year- old daughter. I am managing to be a full time student and mother. Nothing has been harder, but nothing has been as rewarding. I will be graduating an entire year early, ranking third in my class. I hold pure treasure; as my daughter grows, I also grow to accommodate her new needs. Through her I have gained time management, responsibility and endurance, skills I use to advance my education so that I can become more than another statistic.
Stephanie Kusko, Chemistry Teacher
Oakland Tech High School
I had an indifferent attitude my first year and a half of high school. Fortunately, my parents discussed my situation, telling me I was too smart to not succeed. I didn’t want to throw my life away, so I changed. Remarkably, my new mind set fostered an awakening; my GPA climbed an entire grade point in one semester. As Cross Country team captain, Black Students’ Union VP, and working with so many different individuals, I’ve learned to be a problem solver. Although I had a rough start, I managed to turn myself around.
Parker Merrill, Director/ Instructor
Oakland Technical High School
UC San Diego
A wise man told me that 10% of what determines where your life goes is what happens to you, and 90% is how you react to it. I have decided that I’m not going to focus on what I don’t have, but rather take advantage of what I do have. I had no idea my brother and sisters were watching me, but because I had gotten good grades and worked hard they were compelled to get good grades and work hard. I’m proud of setting a good example and hopefully they’ll even surpass me.
Jonas Zuckerman, Teacher
My Aunt Elena inspired me and gave me the safe space I did not have at home. When the doctor told us she had cancer, I was enraged. Two months later she passed away. Losing my aunt pushed me to become a stronger person. Life is short and I want to become a successful female leader. I hope to show Latinas that being responsible and hardworking is the path to becoming an independent woman. Only then can we help the people we love.
Yumi Matsui, Teacher
Oakland Technical High School
Through the Faces for the Future internship I developed a love for the operating room. Working in Anesthesiology, I developed a fascination for the internal parts of a patient. And when I saw the reaction of the patients’ loved ones when the doctor told them the procedure was success, I knew I wanted to be that person. Life is the greatest gift you can give someone. Being accepted at Stanford was the first time in my life that I made my parents truly proud, but I know it will not be the last.
Catherine West, Faces for the Future
Doris Chai, Math Teacher
In the Engineering Academy I’ve gained a firm idea of what Engineering is and its related fields. Working on Close-Up I’ll experience government and politicians. I take every opportunity to enhance my speaking and thinking abilities. What my mother had to go through just to come to this country motivates me. I know that no-one is going to take care of me except for myself; I absorb all I can now so that I can support myself and my children in the future.
Parker Merrill, Teacher Director